End of a Season

Looking back on this year I can see that I’ve been pulled and stretched in so many different ways. Through the stretching and pulling, I’ve also seen that there is so much more to literature than I even thought possible. My mind has been opened to new techniques in writing and feel like I’ve grown so much as a writer through the course of the year and that I’ve learned how to really appreciate other writer’s work.

When I started out this year, I was overwhelmed with the daunting world of writing. Before this class I had always thought that good writers were just born with the talent of writing, so you either had the gift or you didn’t. I had no idea that there were so many different tools and techniques that those great writers used, or that you can always get better. The realization of the vast world I had just stepped into was both exciting and intimidating.

Now at the end of the long, yet rewarding, journey of AP Lang, I feel like a completely different person as a writer. I have grown and learned so much through being pushed and reading so many amazing authors’ works. Going forward and moving on, I want to keep learning and writing so that I can get better and better. Now that I have seen so many other people’s works who were in class with me and outside class, I want to continue learning and aspire to improve my writing. It has been a wonderful year of hard work, and sometime frustrating moments, but in the end it changed the way I see writing and even the world around me.

What do we do with Technology?

When pondering over the effects of technology, I can’t help but remember the mentality of the Roman people near the end of their empire’s reign: “Bread and Circuses.” All the Roman people wanted was to be fed and entertained, which in many ways seems to be where our generation is going. Has technology caused us to make entertainment and enjoyment our main priorities in life?

From six second videos to smartphones, our generation has created an on the go lifestyle for short attention spans. An argument for this newly emerging culture, is that now more time has been created for other day to day activities. To get the latest news, we no longer have to drive out and by a newspaper, all that information is at the tips of our fingers and we are able to get it all with a couple swipes on our smart phones. There is also no need to waste time shopping for clothes or rugs or flower vases, or really anything that is needed. With a quick trip to the amazing world of the internet, any of these items can be purchased and then delivered within the week. So technology itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. It has the ability to save us spending unnecessary time in a number of areas. The trick is, technology is only really beneficial if it is saving us from spending time doing several time draining, so that we can spend it doing something more beneficial, like spending time with family, getting exercise, getting out into the world, etc. Technology becomes more dangerous than beneficial when it takes our time rather than giving it back to us. Going to Amazon and buying a new pair of tennis shoes so that you don’t have to drive all the way to the store and buy them, after spending thirty minutes trying to find a pair that fit and you like, would be a time saver, but if that saved time was then used on YouTube or social media apps, the time is then taken back by technology rather than saved.

Technology can be a good thing if used properly. It has the ability to give us back time to spend with family and friends or out enjoying God’s beautiful creation, but it also can be dangerous, in that it is very easy to get lost in technology to where it takes our time rather than giving it back us. Our job is to learn how to control technology rather than allowing it to control us.

 

The Difficulty of Abortion

Often times when arguing it s easy to lose one’s head and think that those arguing against us are outright dumb for believing what they do. I know that I am guilty of this.

Abortion is something that is very controversial is modern society and there are varying opinions on the topic. These range from those who believe it to be the mother’s choice what she does with her body and that includes abortion, there are those who believe abortion to be wrong and equivalent to murder no matter what the conditions, and then there are those that fall in the middle of the two.

The main issue with the arguments surrounding abortion, is that not everyone agrees when a baby is considered a living human being. This is why some believe that abortion for any reason is alright, because if they do not believe that the baby is a person until they are born, then there is nothing morally wrong with having an abortion. It would then be alright for a woman to do what she wants and can have the option of an abortion, because that baby is nothing more than part of her body until it is born.

On the other side, there are those who believe that a baby is a person the moment they are conceived. This would make abortion murder at any stage in the pregnancy and no different from killing the baby outside the mother’s womb. This in effect changes abortion from being the mother’s choice as it involves just her body, to a situation involving another human being.

There is another group of people that walks a line somewhere in the middle of these two beliefs. They believe that abortion is on some level wrong, but there should be exceptions made for special circumstances. For example is a woman is raped and gets pregnant, they should not have to go through with the pregnancy as it may be traumatic for them. There is also the argument for if a girl of twelve or thirteen gets pregnant and there is a high chance of her not being able to make it and dying as a result of the pregnancy.  

While these are all varying beliefs that seem to all relate through trying to do what is best for a specific group of people, a solution to the argument can only be found through an agreement on when a baby is officially considered a human being with and lie and soul.

The argument for women being able to make decisions concerning their body, while in some ways reasonable, is really only a reasonable option if that baby growing inside her is not considered a person. The argument for exceptions concerning abortion is also a difficult path to walk, because I believe that it is very hard to walk a middle line in this case. One either has to believe that abortion is equivalent to murder, or that it is not. One can not believe that something is wrong, but that there are exceptions, because then in this case abortion is not being seen as murder of an innocent baby, because if it was being compared to this it is unlikely that as many exceptions would be made for the action.

Ultimately it come down to whether that baby growing in his/her mother’s womb is a living human being. Without agreeing on this, both sides are seemingly justified in their reasoning and their decisions.

Othello

The play Othello, by Shakespeare carries with it a complex and unsettling plot which ultimately leads to the undoing of Othello. The one responsible for the downfall of the entire play I would argue, is Iago, the masterful villain of the play. Iago manages to ensnare every single character of the play in his sinister web of lies and manipulation and blinds them all from the truth.

In Othello’s case he manipulates him into believing that his wife is having an affair with Casio, his right hand man. Now some might say that Othello believing Iago and having such a poor sense of confidence is what lead to the downfall of the play, but  without Iago’s continual suggestions and “proof” as well as his ability to manipulate everyone else, Othello’s downfall would not have been as catastrophic or at least have had such an affect on everyone around him.

Somehow through the course of the play and even the time before, Iago has managed to gain trust of every single person in the play. They all trust him and believe him to be an honest and good man. Even Desdemona, who had no real previous relationship with him or any real reason to know him outside him being her husband’s friend, asks him to help her fix her relationship with her husband and puts a great amount of trust in him. What they weren’t able to see is that he was actually a manipulative genius who was able to get them to do his bidding and make them think it was or there own good.

With Casio he convinces him to appeal to Desdemona to get back in Othello’s good graces. Iago then uses Desdemona’s pleading on Casio’s behalf as proof to Othello that the two of them were having an affair. He was also able to trick Rodriguez into trying to kill Casio and Othello into killing Desdemona. He was somehow able to justify murder in the minds of the people in the play and cause them to do the unthinkable to strangers and even those close to them.

Iago’s ability to convince others to do his bidding by convincing them its for their own good combined with his ability to manipulate people’s perceptions of situations that he creates, makes him one of the greatest villains of all time. His abilities also make him the one who causes everyone’s downfall in the play and turn the play into the tragedy it is.

Logical Fallacies

I recently watched one of the Republican debates from the 2016 election runners and realized that aside from side stepping direct questions there were also several logical fallacies used.

One thing I’ve learned about politics and politicians themselves is that they often say things that they know people want to hear with the hope that no one will think too deeply on it so that the gaping holes in their arguments do not come to light. When watching the debate, several of the runners would would make huge jumps in their arguments, for example, something like: if I am elected president then America will be great again. There was often no real example given that spoke of how that would happen, just that them being in office would help make America great. On a surface level this sounds great because most people want to live in a great country, but upon deeper inspection it becomes clear that they haven’t actually said anything about how they’ll go about that.

Politicians often play off of the desires of the majority, because it is their job to know what the people want and to keep them happy. Telling people you’re going to do what they want is a really good way to get them to vote for you, but a lot of times they don’t say how they’re going to do it.

Logical fallacies in political debates help to pull people in in support of a politician without that politician really having to give specific information on how they plan on following through on anything. The result of this is that lots of people will vote for someone based on them saying they are going to do something that person wants even though they actually never really said how they plan to do it or if it’s even possible.The lack of a plan and the flawed arguments of politicians could be a reason why several times when politicians are elected presidents they don’t get all the things done that they said they would, granted it is difficult to get laws passed through all of the bodies of the government. Logical fallacies should be an early sign of someone who does not have all of the facts to back up their arguments and may have difficulties in putting their plans into action later.

Living a Purposeful Life

The word purpose has always been intimidating to me. I’ve caught myself to often viewing minutes, hours, even days as an obstacle to get past in order to get to something. This is a poor way to live life. If I try and rush through a day then I am not using it to its fullest potential and am certainly not using it to serve any kind of purpose.

Everything has a purpose. Objects, buildings, even people have a reason for existing. That purpose may not be what that person ultimately does or chooses to do, but everyone does infact have a purpose in life that is given to them by God.

As we are humans, we are not always privy to the masterful plan that God has laid out. He has a plan so beautifully ornate and wonderful and each person who chooses to follow Him and place their lie in His hands has a special job in it. Our part in God’s plan is our purpose. As I said before though, no one but God knows the ultimate plan and knowing our exact role in that plan can sometimes be difficult and confusing, but this is where faith comes in. Faith is a huge part of living the purposeful life that God has laid out for us. We must have faith that God does in fact have a part for in His plan and that is infact a good plan that will bring about His glory. We also must have faith that God will show us what that role for us is.

I am finishing off my Junior year of highschool and now have to start figuring out what to do with my life and If I’m being completely honest I have absolutely no idea what that entails. I know there are areas that I would enjoy pursuing in school and have a list of possibilities for universities, but the prospect of making those decisions seems incredibly daunting to me. I have to continuously remind myself that God has a plan for my life and he will reveal what he wants me to do in His time.

Living a purposeful life is a scary, but beautiful thing, scary because we never know what God will ask us to leave, but beautiful because we get to be a part of God’s glorious plan for the world.

Now a living a purposeful life for God may mean completely different things for different people. Some may be called to live amongst the poor in remote villages with no real possessions to call their own while others may be called to be a light for Christ on wall street.  Both of these people are considered successful in life if they have lived their life proclaiming who Christ is and living as a light for him. The rewards for those who follow Christ can not be found in the goods the world has, but are waiting in Heaven. 19 “‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal’” (Matthew 6:19-20). Success on this earth is just a small piece of eternity and doesn’t matter at all on the greater side of eternity.

 

What is a Resume?

One thing that has made me genuinely worried about my future is the fact that I have absolutely no clue how to write a resume. I have no idea how I would even start it. I mean how would you even start it? “Hi, my name is…and I really want this job because of…, and I would be good at this job because of…, so please give me this job.” Well after some research I have found out there is a bit more to it that that, actually quite a bit more.

The surface level of a resume consist of where you got your education, where you have worked, and recommendations that people have written for you. This is just the first level. There is then a matter of discussing what you can bring to the job and the organization you are trying to work for and what that job can do to help you grow in knowledge and experience.

There is also several techniques on what you should and should not put in a resume. One do not that is commonly not followed is expressing what you can contribute to the job more than what the job can contribute to you. Employers are looking for people to contribute to their team or organization and they want to know how you can contribute more than how they can help you. They also want to know about you, but one has to be careful about not being too personal on their resume. Along those lines there is also the importance of formality. The language used in a resume needs to be formal so that the people reviewing it will know that you know what you are doing and take you seriously and hopefully consider you for the job.

There is a lot that goes into writing a resume and after looking into it I am glad I don’t have to write one in the near future. I would say though, that I am more familiar with the process and the idea of it doesn’t seem as daunting.

Metaphors

  1. If  Claude McKay was an Animal, he would be an owl, because he had a distinctive voice that was eerie and recognizable. He also carried with him wisdom that he desired to share with those around him.
  2. If he was a Plant, he would be a sunflower, striking and bold in his speech and message.
  3. If he was an Article of Clothing he would be a pair of jeans that we’re a bit too tight. McKay’s constant talk of racial issues would have been uncomfortable to the people of that time. McKay was the tight pair of jeans, that grow more and more uncomfortable until the person needs to change into a different pair of jeans, just like the people in McKay’s time needed to change the way society was run.
  4. If McKay was a Day of the Week he would be Sunday. He lived his life constantly trying to point out moral issues in society regarding race. His constant regard for right and wrong.
  5. If he was a Food he would be a gourmet meal; not very common, but unique and carrying some level of importance.
  6. If he was a Color he would be a soft green, because he was bold and stood out in his time, but also desired connection and closeness with his neighbors.
  7. If McKay was a Geometric Shape he would a triangle; a defined and familiar shape, but not one you would find often in your everyday life.
  8. If he was a  Fragrance he would be the smell of the earth after it’s just rained. There is something familiar and yet renewing about the smell of rain and McKay was a fairly well known man and spent his life trying to change and bring new life to the society around him.
  9. If he was a Type of Building he would be a lighthouse, standing strong against the crashing waves. McKay stood strong against the opposing pressures in his life and like a lighthouse, he shone light into the perpetual dark and grey seas for all to see.
  10. If he was a Word, he would be the word bold. Everything that McKay did was bold. His beautifully written poems boldly exposed problems in society. The way he lived his life boldly attempting to make changes to the racist culture that surrounded him.
  11. If McKay was a Musical Instrument he would be a trumpet, loudly playing its tune in a way that is pleasing to the ear. McKay wrote about the social inequalities of racism through his beautifully written sonnets that are pleasing to the ear.
  12. If he was a Season of the Year he would be autumn. Autumn is a season that makes the preparations for winter and in many ways, McKay pushed and waited for a period of full equality for African Americans.
  13. If he was an Appliance he would be a microwave; not quite appreciated as much as it should be and in many ways one of the most futuristic things in the kitchen. McKay was in many ways before his time with his ideas and thoughts.
  14. If he was a Natural Phenomenon he would be an earthquake. He tried to cause cracks in the society of his time and expose what was going on underneath the smoothly paved roads and seemingly perfect cities.
  15. If Claude McKay was a Literary Character he would be Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s book, Pride and prejudice. Like Elizabeth, McKay was not afraid to speak his mind and did so through his poems. Both were also not afraid of being different and standing out in their societies.

Comfort Zones

I’ve recently begun to think about what the word, comfortable, really means. Often times the word is associated with the word safe, but really the situation is only safe because it is familiar, so the only thing we’re really safe from is trying something new. This begs the question, is that real safety?

If living a comfortable life means living a life where we never pass over the lines of familiarity into the great unknown, can what we’re doing still be called living? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines life as, “the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual.” Now in some ways, this could be interpreted as the physical action of breathing in and out and all the other technical bodily functions that keep us alive. I believe, though, that  there is some significance in the word experience that goes past the basic definition of living.

I’m going to focus for just a little bit on the part that says, “physical and mental experiences.” Living life means that we  don’t just taste and see, which fall under the categories of physical and mental experiences, but that we taste things that are new and exciting and we see things that amaze and humble us.

The beauty of the senses are sometimes so completely underrated and so often taken for granted. Our ability to smell, hear, see, taste, and touch are beautiful gifts given to us by God to enjoy the world He has made. He could have not given us eyes to see the sun rise and fall. He could have created us without ears to hear the birds singing their beautiful songs. He could have not given us taste buds to enjoy every delicious part of our food. He could have not made us with the ability to smell the beautiful scent of a flower in bloom. He could have made us without the ability to feel the comfort of a loved-one’s embrace. None of these are needs. The senses are not involved in the basic systems in our body that keep us alive, granted they do make life easier, but mostly they make life rich. So if we posses all of these gifts that are a part of our everyday life but do not technically contribute to the functions of living, then that means there has to be so much more to life.

Now I know I have now gone on this long tangent with senses, but trust me I am going somewhere with this.

So you know when we hear or smell something and immediately recognize it, or do not. Well if it’s the latter then we begin to wonder what we heard or smelled; we become curious. This goes back to a completely normal human instinct to wonder about the world around us. We are already instinctively wondering about the world and searching to learn more, the next step would be immersing ourselves in that curiosity. Traveling to a new place, surrounding ourselves with different people, tasting bizarre foods would all be wonderful ways to attain new knowledge and let the curiosity lead us.

Have you ever been way way outside your comfort zone or experienced what is often called, culture shock? It is in this moment when all of your senses seem like they’re going on overdrive. You don’t recognize anything you see, or hear, or even smell. I would argue though, that this is a wonderful way to live life. In those moments we are completely out of our comfortzones, because none of our senses can grasp anything familiar. In this situation, if curiosity were given the opportunity to take the lead, some much new and exciting knowledge could be gained.

If we remain in our nice little, comfortable bubble, we will miss the world around us. I wish to live full of unfamiliarity and through this learn the many secrets the world has to offer, and I wish this for you too.

Into the Wild

When first introduced to the character Alex, or Chris McCandless, I have to admit he really annoyed me. By doing things like, cutting off contact with his parents to intentionally hurt them and getting offended when his parent offered to buy him a new car and put him through law school, he came off as a rich kid who had no appreciation for all that he had. As the story progressed though, and I was taken deeper into his character and life, I began to see the world through Alex’s eyes. The frustration and annoyance that I felt before soon turned into understanding, although there are some things that he did that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to understand. Ultimately though, Alex was a young man trying to grasp the world around him and find his place in it. I feel that this is something we all go through, Alex just went about it a very different way. This being said, I believe that Jon Krakauer’s intended audience when decided to write and publish Alex’s story, was everyone. I believe everyone, on some level, carries with them an innate curiosity about the world around them. Alex took this curiosity to new and rarely explored places and ideas. By looking at Alex’s adventures across the country and into the wilderness, and examining his logic behind his decisions, we are able to relate to his ideas, if not his actions, and are drawn to Alex’s story in a unique way. Krakauer’s portrayal of Alex as the average, albeit brilliant and talented kid, he is able to pull in people who also have at some point desired to be independent and to learn about and know the world around him. These desires cover a vast majority of people and thus the book reaches it’s intended vast audience.

Now a question that I continued to think back upon while reading Into the Wild, was whether or not Alex McCandless would even have wanted a book written about him. From what the book says and what all the people who knew him say, he seemed to be a very private person. He would rarely tell those whom he met on the road his real name, and he rarely let people know what he was thinking. Alex seemed like a very private person and I’m not sure he’d want his life’s story out for the world to see. On the other hand though, he seemed to encourage others to do as he had done and escape society and go into nature. There was an elderly man that Alex met on his journey, named Ronald A. Franz, and to whom Alex grew quite close. Franz also felt a connection to Alex, and when Alex left, he told Franz to leave his home and everything that tied him down and to go out and live in the wilderness. Surprisingly enough, Franz did this. So I believe on some level Alex would have wanted to encourage other to escape into nature. Even after finishing the book I really don’t have an answer. I think it’s a question that only Alex himself could answer.